Shuttle Flying Piggyback on 747 to Florida
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft takes off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with space shuttle Endeavour on its back Wednesday morning. The flight is to carry Endeavour back to its home base at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour left California this morning riding piggy-back to Florida on a modified Boeing 747.
NASA released an image of the pair at takeoff, which occurred at 7 a.m. PST (10 a.m. EST), just after the sun rose over the West Coast.
The shuttle landed at Edwards Air Force Base Nov. 30 after bad weather in Florida forced a diversion to the California back-up location. The 747 is taking Endeavour back to the Kennedy Space Center.
The 747, called a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, and Endeavour are expected at NASA's Kennedy Space Center as early as Thursday afternoon, but Friday also is a possibility, the agency said in a statement. The exact timing and route depend on weather conditions along the way. The shuttle/aircraft combo is enroute to Biggs Army Air Field in El Paso, Texas.
The flight will cost about $1.8 million. The effort is not expected to have an impact on NASA's scheduled shuttle flights during 2009, including a planned May mission to work on the Hubble Space Telescope.
The 16-day shuttle mission to the International Space Station upgraded and serviced the orbiting outpost.
The mission, which came during the 10th anniversary of the space station, included the 200th U.S. spacewalk. Astronauts added two new sleep stations to the ISS, a new galley with a refrigerator, and a water and urine recycling system and an advanced resistive exercise device.
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